The Illinois Supreme Court will start conducting its business in Springfield once again next month. The justices had been displaced for the past year while their building was renovated, restoring the building to many of its original design features.
For most of the last year, the court building, across from the State Capitol in Springfield, was separated from the public by orange plastic fencing and lots of construction dust.
The project was paid for by selling state bonds, part of the larger rehab project that also restored part of the statehouse last year — including those now-infamous, $670,000 copper doors.
The bulk of the $16 million spent on Supreme Court building was put toward replacing the heating and air conditioning for the building. Other renovations included restoring murals in the courtrooms, fixing a water table issue in the basement (where court records are stored), and adding a women's restroom to the court's chambers.
Chief Justice Rita Garman says the one-bathroom situation had left female justices leaving the chambers to find a public restroom.
"Which is problematic when the court's in session, we're hearing oral arguments, because there can be members of the public and other attorneys in there and we really need to have separation at that point in time," she said.
The project's architect says unpredictable humidity in the building took its toll on important court documents, plaster murals, and even warped a fist-sized hole in a wooden column.
The justice's living areas upstairs, where they stay four nights out of the week when the court is in session, was mostly left alone, save for a fresh coat of paint.